Sports Stories: Speaking with the queen

Story: Game of her life by Tim Crothers/ESPN the Magazine

Last semester, I took Sports Media with Tim Crothers. As part of the class, we had guest speakers from sports media or teams come to class each week and we were allowed to ask them anything (as long as it was related to sports media) for about an hour. Pretty cool considering we got to speak to some sports information directors and Carolina athletes — oh yeah, and Anson Dorrance and the Roy Williams (in the press room at the Dean Dome nonetheless. No, I didn’t cry). Overall, I learned a lot from the class and really enjoyed it. (JOMC 245, for those of you lucky enough to be sticking around for the fall.)

While Roy Williams was obviously the most exciting speaker, perhaps the most interesting and slightly peculiar speaker was Phiona Mutesi. Unless you follow international chess, you have no idea who that is, but you should. Phiona is a 14 year old chess prodigy who has won several international chess compeitions. Even more impressive is the fact that she grew up and continues to live in the slums of Uganda.

Phiona was in the U.S. to help promote Crothers’ book about her, The Queen of Katwe. After a day of media and interviews, Phiona was timid and shy. But through her broken English, she sounded just like any other 14-year-old. She talked about how she started playing chess and what it is like now traveling the world and staying in exquisite hotels before returning to the slums. It was extremely humbling to hear from her and gain some perspective on life outside of our little Chapel Hill bubble.

Today, ESPN the Magazine tweeted Phiona’s incredible story, which ran in the January 2011 issue, and I was reminded of meeting her. The story is definitely worth the read. It’s always nice to get a little reminder about how even though I don’t want to graduate college, I live a pretty blessed life.


One comment

  1. Phiona’s story is so inspiring! It is amazing what she has been able to overcome and she has such a bright future.

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